To the individuals who defaced the memorial to Lt. Corey Dahlem on the 34th Street Wall: Regardless about what you may believe about UPD's actions, you have crossed the line. By tagging the now infamous "Don't Tase me, bro!" over a memorial to a dedicated and upstanding officer, you covered up the most visible mark of an officer who exemplified how to protect and serve.
Meyer is no victim. I first came in contact with Meyer in fall 2004. Disgruntled that he was passed over and I was chosen as the Alligator's humor columnist that semester, he set about ranting about me on his personal Web site. He spent that semester dissecting my weekly columns and writing about what a horrible writer I was. He was my "biggest fan."
It never ceases to amaze me how liberals are able to cast any situation in a light that is beneficial to them; the most recent case in point being the infamous "Don't Tase me, bro" incident Monday on our campus. In the amount of time it takes to upload a shaky video on YouTube, the liberal talking points were already spelled out: Fascist police use force to squash free speech.
I was present for Meyer's incident and have to say that the police were 100 percent right in their actions. He was acting extremely aggressive and being very loud and disruptive, growing angry right from the beginning. He seemed to be almost provoking the officers as well. This was not in any way an issue of free speech. Mr. Meyer was not Tasered because of anything that he said. He was Tasered because he was violently resisting arrest. Contrary to rumors, he was not handcuffed while being Tasered. He was Tasered so he could be handcuffed. He was also given repeated warnings that if he did not calm down and comply with the officers, he would be Tasered.
I am very concerned by the apparent degradation of free expression, political debate and academic discourse at UF. I have been following from afar the discussions going on about the Accent Speakers Bureau. It's been troubling to learn that there are some who wish to censor and create vast oversight over the selection of speakers. I have always been proud to be a part of the world's largest student-run speakers bureau. Accent has more than 40 years of history and tradition in bringing insightful, challenging and sometimes even controversial laureates to speak to our students and community.
Considering all that's happened this week - Andrew Meyer, Tasers, UPD, worldwide news coverage and so on - everything else just seems boring in comparison. Take, for instance, the Gator Party platform.
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In light of the police report being released, I hope that people will realize that the Meyer Tasering incident was not about First Amendment rights. To say that a person who was able to ask a question even though the allotted question-and-answer time was over, who saw it fit that his questions were more important than the people ahead of him and was able to yell questions at Kerry for a good bit of time before he said "blowjob" was somehow robbed of his First Amendment rights is ridiculous. The police did not remove him for being too controversial or for asking the "tough questions" but for being a belligerent, petulant kid who had complete disregard for the established etiquette of a forum. He was disruptive, and it became clear after watching the video that he didn't really want answers from Kerry, just to stump him. Tasering him was not warranted, but removing him was. If people really want to be outraged about Tasering, they should read about the pregnant woman who was Tasered in her belly in Gainesville recently.
Such brutality as conducted by the campus police at the Kerry event shows that campus Police Chief Linda Stump is either culpable for their behavior because she ordered the excessive force or gave permission for it, or she is out of control of her officers.
Kudos to Kyle Cox on his commentary regarding UF student Andrew Meyer. Thank you for covering many points the media failed to address during their biased audio clips. Anyone who has viewed the full-length videos of the incident would have to admit there were multiple non-forceful steps taken prior to Tasering Meyer. These steps, although unsuccessful, included asking him to step away from the microphone, turning the microphone off, attempting to peacefully escort him out, attempting to secure and handcuff him and warning him prior to Tasering. The video also showed at the time of the Tasering, Meyer's left arm not secured behind his back, but rather stretched out where he was using it to brace himself in a clear attempt to resist arrest.
Reading all the comments people have made, whether online or in the paper, I think that people are somewhat misguided in their anger. What happened to Meyer was wrong, but what didn't happen was even worse.
The irony of the Taser incident is that it took place on Sept. 17, the day the country celebrates Constitution Day. It is unfortunate both sides could not remain calm and work to a peaceful resolution. But that could be said about anything, including our own national government.
When I first saw the Andrew Meyer video, I was stunned that a conservative activist could act so foolish and immature. When it was revealed that he is actually a Kerry supporter, the whole ordeal made much more sense.